more from A.J. Ayer

Single Idea 5197

[catalogued under 12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 7. A Priori from Convention]

Full Idea

The proposition that 'a material thing cannot be in two places at once' is not empirical at all, but linguistic; ..we could so alter our definitions that the proposition came to express a self-contradiction instead of a necessary truth.

Gist of Idea

By changing definitions we could make 'a thing can't be in two places at once' a contradiction


A.J. Ayer (Language,Truth and Logic [1936], Ch.2)

Book Reference

Ayer,A.J.: 'Language, Truth and Logic' [Penguin 1974], p.77

A Reaction

This seems a striking anticipation of Quine's famous challenge to the analytic/synthetic distinction.